updated 12:30 am EDT, Thu September 4, 2014
May have shot special video for the introduction, Bono could make appearance
A variety of rumors have surfaced suggesting that U2 -- the legendary Irish band whose members have close ties to former and current Apple executives -- may be involved in some manner with the launch of the iPhone 6, which is expected to happen at a scheduled press event next Tuesday, September 9. Reports range from Bono (and perhaps the rest of the band) performing at the end of the Apple event to the possibility that the group's new album would be pre-loaded onto the iPhone, though the latter seems highly speculative.
The Sunday Times discovered the band performing for a video on Samuel Beckett Bridge in Dublin with an apparent focus on a phone in the video. Promoter Stephen Browne offered a poor-quality "blurrycam" photo of the shoot, suggesting that the new album could be pre-loaded onto the next iPhone.
However, Apple has avoided such promotions, as non-fans would find the gesture intrusive and have to delete it. Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller has made a point of noting that the iPhone doesn't come with any sponsored "crapware" from third-parties, and pre-loading an album would be seen as a similar move. Much more likely, assuming the band will offer some free music to buyers, is a download code from iTunes.
Another rumor floated by CNet also seems unlikely. Reporter Shara Tibken has suggested that the two-story temporary building Apple has created next to the Flint Center in Cupertino might be used for a concert stage for the band or just Bono alone to perform on. This also doesn't tie in with the usual practices of the company, as musical performers simply take the same stage as the keynote following CEO Tim Cook's final remarks but is certainly a possibility.
Bono does have personal and business relationships with Apple going back more than a decade. He is a personal friend of design chief Sir Jonathan Ive, and was friends with Steve Jobs as well. U2 were honored in 2004 with the only "special edition" iPod, which came with engraved signatures of the band members, a poster and a $50 credit towards a download of the band's complete output to that point.
The unit is still in demand among collectors and U2 fans. The September iPhone event will happen just a month shy of the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the U2 special edition iPod, which (if the rumors are true) could presage another U2-related announcement.
More importantly, Bono has worked closely with Apple over the years on the Project (RED) initiative to fight AIDS and other diseases in the developing world. The singer was recently mischaracterized as attacking Apple's participation in the program, but the remarks were simply a misinterpretation of some joking around between Bono and Ive. To date, Apple has raised more than $75 million for the charity through its sales of special Project (RED) accessories and the occasional one-off special item, such as the (RED) Mac Pro that eventually sold for nearly a million dollars.